Challenges and Opportunities Driving RPA in Utility Industry

By Ashutosh Agarwal posted 09-04-2020 14:34


As utility companies look to drive efficiency, better manage costs, and enhance customer experience in a regulated industry, several constraints make transformation levers have a high cost of enablement. This has an adverse effect on the overall return on investment for many transformation initiatives. Further, in many countries, the industry is not just regulated but is also either partially or fully owned by the government which may also impact agility in parts of the organization. 

On the brighter side, this is one industry where the demand is only increasing (or else fairly stable in mature markets) as industries and consumers continue to need energy. This is much better than some industries where the demand fluctuation can impact mid to long term transformation initiatives. 

These present a great opportunity for utility companies to leverage Intelligent Automation to deliver returns in months (instead of years). While each organization is unique, there are two sets of opportunities that come to fore for utility companies to deliver high returns to business from automation initiatives: 

  1. Standard back-office processes being automated which are fairly pervasive across industries and not specific to the utility industry eg. a PR to PO process which is such a crucial process to ensure projects and maintenance activities managed efficiently. Automation through intelligent automation can not just help reduce the cost of this process but also reduce the time-to-process per transaction leading to straight revenue and bottom-line benefits. 
  1. The second bucket of opportunities is specific to the utility industry. These include processes related to smart metering, billing, and collection, customer care, asset maintenance processes, etc. These are unique to the industry but core to the business of utility companies. These have seen islands of new technologies like IoT, smart meters, drone capture, etc but these islands are then connected to the rest of the processes (say billing and collection) where human workers have to traverse legacy and not-so legacy systems across technologies to complete the overall process. Intelligent Automation can help integrate the legacy and disruptive technologies in such processes to ensure these raise the overall process efficiency and reduce the cost of operations.

 An ideal first wave should include some low hanging opportunities to build the initial wave in an organization demonstrating value delivery. These would best include some use cases from the first set (#1) and few from the second set (#2). In both the processes should be stable, in-control, and fairly mature to ensure fewer moving parts.

The second wave should then focus more on the second bucket to ensure value is unleashed in the core business functions and that is then easier set with the learnings from the first wave.

Over from there, opportunities leveraging next-gen cognitive technologies in areas like image processing, sentiment analysis, and IoT will accelerate coverage across legacy and new age technologies.

Do you have any stories on how your organization went about these or in a different way?

Drop-in a comment and let's discuss!


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